Right-wing Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles is banned from running for office for 15 years, the South American country’s Comptroller General ruled on Friday.
Capriles, the current Governor of Miranda, announced the ruling on Twitter, saying the move was part of an alleged “auto-coup” taking place in Venezuela. He later called it “an act of dictatorship” during a televised press conference.
“More than yesterday, more than today, tomorrow there are plenty of reasons to mobilize in the whole country against the auto-coup,” he also posted on Twitter.
Capriles painted the move as an attempt by the socialist government to “crack down” on the “peaceful” opposition, failing to mention why the Comptroller General took said action.
Last Wednesday, the institution imposed a fine on the governor for “redirecting funds from Miranda’s budget,” El Nacional reports. Capriles is suspected of misappropriating government funds for personal and political use.
Venezuela’s Comptroller General has also linked the right-wing politician to Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company accused of paying bribes to Latin American governments in order to obtain contracts. Capriles was denounced last February in front of the Public Ministry for allegedly receiving US$3 million from the Brazilian construction company.
Capriles has not only supported ongoing violent protests against the socialist government. He’s also played a central role in organizing them, as he did in 2014 with the “La Salida” campaign that left over 40 people dead.
For these reasons, the right-wing opposition leader is barred from participating in elections for the next 15 years.
Capriles has twice run for the presidency, but lost in 2012 to late President Hugo Chavez and in 2013 to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He is one of the main figures within the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition and has been pushing for a referendum to recall Maduro.
He has even called on members of Venezuela’s armed forces to forcibly remove Maduro from power.
“Prepare the tanks and warplanes,” Capriles said in May 2016, adding that “the hour of truth is coming to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro."
“This will be a decision that the Bolivarian Armed Forces will have to take.”